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Minutes and proceedings of the General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada, held by adjournments in Amhrstburgh [sic], C.W., June 16th and 17th, 1853.


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Minutes and proceedings of the General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada, held by adjournments in Amhrstburgh [sic], C.W., June 16th and 17th, 1853.


Pamphlet (24 p. ; 24 cm.)







Amherstburgh, ON














June 16th and 17th, 1853.






HELD AT AMHERTSBURG JUNE, 16th, & 17th, 1853.

Thursday, June 16th, 1853.

The Delegates to the General Convention assembled in the 1st Baptist Church at 10 o' clock A. M. and was called to order by J. W. Underwood, Esq., of the Amhertsburg committee, who read the petition of twelve freeholders of the Township of Malden, requesting the Sheriff the of United Counties of Essex & Lambton, to give his sanction to the assembling of said Convention, and the compliance of the Sheriff therewith. On two several motions, Rev. Josiah Henson was appointed chairman pro tem, and J. Theodore Holly Secretary pro tem.

The throne of grace was addressed by the chairman. On motion the original call was read by the Secretary. At the close of the reading of this call, Mr. Bibb, made a statement respecting the revised call, issued since the original, by which an invitation was extended to the colored people of the United States and their friends.

H. H. Hawkins Esq., of Chatham raised the question, whether this Convention was to be a delegated, or a Mass Convention, whereupon the Convention resolved itself into a mass Convention. On motion it was resolved that a committee of three be appointed to nominate permanent officers for the Convention. Mr. Israel Campbell moved and Mr. Colman Freeman seconded a motion that said committee be elected by the House. Considerable discussion arose on the usages and rules of order, and finally the motion was amended and it was resolved that the committee be appointed by the Chair. Messrs Hawkins Bibb and Ruth were appointed the committee.

On motion J. W. Underwood was appointed Assistant Secretary to register the names of all the attendants of the Convention who wished to participate in its proceedings, whereupon the following list of members were enrolled:—


Levi Foster,
J.W. Underwood,
James Morton,
H. W. Brown,
R. Warren,
P. J. Jackson,
Irvin Howard,
George Young,
J. Wilson,
M. Stephens,
J. H. Simpson,


Henry Johnson,


Isaac Brown,


H. Hawkins,
W. Carter,
S.B. Needham,
Andrew Smith,
M. F. Baily,



W. Fisher,

DRESDEN C.W. J. Henson, G. Cary,

SANDWICH G.W. Lewis Clark. C. Ereeman, H Bibb, I. Campbell, J.T. Holly,



James Haley,

MADI5ON IND. E. D. Claybrook. Gilbert West,

CLEVELAND O. Stephen Griffin

OBERLIN O. R. Van Rankin,

URBANA O. Jer. Thomas

The committee on nominations reported the following list of officers of the Convention.

President, REV. JOSIAH HENSON, Dresden C. W.

Vice Presidents.

Stephen Griffin, Cleveland Ohio.

Lewis Clark, Sandwich C. W.

Wm. Fisher, Colchester C.W.

A. Smith Chatham C. W.

J. Morton, Amhertsburg C. W.

I. Campbell, Sandwich C. W.

[E. D. Claybrook. Madison Ind.]

[By a vote of the Convention.]

Secretary. Geo. Cary, Dresden,C. W.

On motion it was resolved that the report be received, and the committee discharged.

It was moved and seconded that the candidates nominated be elected the officers if this Convention.—carried.

A motion was made to appoint a committee to draft rules for the government of the Convention—(carried.) The chairman appointed H. H. Hawkins, H. Bibb, and Wm. Fisher said committee.

The committee appointed reported the following regulations.

Your committee appointed to adopt rules and regulations for the government of this Convention, respectfully report—

I. The President shall take the chair at the time to which the House may be adjourned, and upon the appearance of a quorum shall direct the roll to be called and the previous minutes read.

2. The President shall have full power to keep order and decorum; shall decide questions of order, subject to an appeal to the Con-


vention, and appoint or nominate committees when ordered by the Convention.

3. In case of the absence of the President, the 1st Vice President shall perform the duty, and in his absence it shall devolve upon any Vice-President present.

4. If two or more members rise to speak at one time, the President shall decide who shall be entitled to the floor.

5. Every member who shall be in the House at a time the question is put shall give his vote, unless the House, for special reasons shall excuse him.

6. No member shall be interrupted while speaking except by a call to order by the President; when such member may appeal to the House.

7. When a motion is stated by the President, it shall he deemed to be in possession of the House, but may be withdrawn at any time before a decision.

8. While the President is stating any business, or addressing the House, no member shall walk out, or cross the floor, nor when any member is speaking entertain private discourse.

9. No member shall speak more than once on the same subject, and shall not occupy more than fifteen minutes at each time, without permission from the House.

10. No motion or proposition on a subject different from that under consideration shall be admitted under colour of amendment.

11. No motion for reconsideration shall be in order unless made by a member who voted in the majority, and approved of by the president.

12. A motion for adjournment shall always be in order after 1 o'clock, P. M., or 6 o'clock, P. M., or 9 o'clock P. M.

13. All documents and papers, presented for the consideration of this convention, shall be submitted to a committee of five or more appointed for that purpose.

14. All motions to be made shall be submitted in writing if re- quested.

(Signed) H. HAWKINS,



On motion the report was received and the committee discharged. It was moved and seconded that the report be adopted—carried.

It was moved and seconded that a Business committee of five be appointed to report business for the Convention—carried. The chair appointed Messrs Bibb, Hawkins, Morton, Foster, and Brown, said committee. On motion it was resolved to add two more to the Business committee. Messrs. Smith and Underwood were added to the committee. At another motion Messrs. Holly and Clark were added to the same committee. At another motion Messrs. Freeman and Baily, were also added to said committee. At 12 1/2 0'clock P. M., the Convention resolved to adjourn till 2 o'clock in the afternoon.



The House was called to order by the President, and the Throne of Grace addressed. The roll was called. The minutes of the forenoon session was read. On motion Edward Claybrook of Ind. was added to the list of Vice-Presidents, on motion it was resolved that the minutes be approved, and the name of Mr. Claybrook, recorded with the list of Vice-Presidents ;—carried.

The Business Committee reported a Preamble and three resolutions, and recommended the appointment of seven committees on the following subjects, Emigration, Agriculture, Temperance, Education, Constitution for a Provincial League, Statistics and Financial expenses of the Convention, and requested leave to sit longer on the business of the Convention. On motion the report was received, and the request granted. On motion the report was taken up by sections amended in some particulars and adopted. On motion it was resolved that the Financial committee be immediately appointed, and instructed to raise collections at the morning and evening sessions of the convention to defray its expenses. The chair appointed Messrs. Morton and Jackson, said committee.

J. W. Underwood moved a preamble, and resolution seconded by Israel Campbell, denouncing begging without exceptions for all purposes, objections were raised to considering the resolution unless it was reported through the Business committee.

On motion it was resolved to refer it to the business committee with instructions to report immediately. The business committee retired and returned after a short absence and reported the resolution without the preamble.

On motion the report was received. J. W. Underwood, moved and C. Freeman seconded the adoption of the resolution. A long and animated discussion ensued on the resolution until the hour of 6 1/2 oclock P. M. when on motion the Convention, adjourned to meet at 7 1/2 oclock P. M.


The President called the convention to order, and offered up prayer to the Throne of God.

The Secretary having resigned his post to the President and left town since the afternoon session, the President called for the appointment of a Secretary. On motion J. T. Holly was appointed Secretary of the Convention.

The roll was called and the minutes read and approved. The President announced the appointment of the following committees.

J. T. Holly,

Lewis Clark,

C. Freeman, } on Emigration.

H. Bibb,

E. D. Claybrook,

Andrew Smith. } on Agriculture


Lewis Clark,

S. B. Needham,

M. F. Baily, } on Temperance.

J. W Underwood,

S. B. Needham,

Isaac Wilson, } on Education

J. T. Holly,

H. Bibb.

L. Clark, } on Constitution for Provincial League.

H. Bibb,

J.W. Underwood,

Rev. R. Warren, } on Statistics

The Business committee reported four resolutions as a substitute for the resolutions they had been instructed to report in the afternoon. On motion the report was received as a substitute. A lengthy and exciting discussion arose on the substitute, and at 12 o'clock, the substitute was finally adopted by a vote of 18 in favor to 12 against it. On motion three gentlemen were appointed a Vigilant committee in Colchester under the 4th resolution of the substitute. On motion the Convention adjourned to meet Friday morning at 8 o'clock.

Tuesday morning June 17 1853.

The Convention was called to order by the President and prayer was offered up. The roll was called, and the minutes read and approved.

It was moved to hear the report of the several committies. The Business committee reported a large number of resolutions, which report was received, discussed, amended, adopted, and the committee discharged. The committee on Emigration reported, which report was received and adopted without discussion, and the committee discharged. The committee on Agriculture reported, and the report was received discussed, amended and adopted, and the committee discharged. The committee on Temperance reported, which report was received discussed, and adopted and the committee discharged.

The committee on Education reported, and the report was received, discussed, adopted and the committee discharged. On motion the order of business was suspended to allow the Finance committee to raise a collection for expenses. The committee on the Constitution for the Provincial League reported, which report was received and laid over indefinitely. The committee on Statistics reported, which report was received and adopted. The committee on Finance retorted that they had raised enough to pay expenses which report was received, approved and the committee discharged. On motion the committee on Statistics was discharged. On motion it was resolved that all the proceedings of this convention be printed in a pamphlet form, and the different delegates be requested to subscribe their names as responsible for a certain number of

copies individually, until 500 should be subscribed for. When 16 delegates had subscribed the number of 500 was made up and the subscription was suspended.

On motion H. Bibb, and J. T. Holly, be contracted with to print the proceedings—carried.

On motion some resolutions offered by H. Bibb, S. B. Needham, and C. Freeman were adopted, and ordered to be enrolled with the resolutions already adopted. On motion an Executive committee to supervise the general interest of the colored people of Canada, to carry out the proceedings of this Convention, and to appoint the time and place of a General Convention to be held next year in the Province, be appointed—carried. The following persons were appointed:— .

Executive Committee.

J.T. Holly, of Windsor, C. W.

George Cary, of Dawn, " ".

J. P. Morton, of Amherstburgh " "

M. F. Baily, of Chatham, " "

Issac Brown, of Buxton " "

On motion a vote of thanks were tendered to the President and Subordinate officers of the Convention for their services during convention.

At 1 o'clock P. M. the convention adjourned sine die.

President, Josiah HENSON.

Vice Presidents,








Attest: J. T. Holly Secretary.

The following are the Preamble and resolutions adopted.


Whereas this Convention is assembled to consider the general condition of the colored race in America, and also for such specific objects as are of local interest to the colored people of Canada therefore it adopts the following resolutions


1st. Resoved, That in our opinion, the true policy of the Africo-American race, to secure their elevation and development, is to emigrate from the U.S. to Canada, the West Indies, or such other points on this continent, as are contiguous to the United States, where they can enjoy all the rights of freemen, and be near by, to lend a helping hand to their brethren in bonds.


2nd. Resolved, That whilst we sympathise with all efforts to christianise and civilize Africa, and believe that Liberia, through the Providence of God, and the Governments who have recognised her independence, received her in the family of nations, and exchanged diplomatic relations with her, may become a happy and prosperous nation, yet we are constrained by a sense of duty to bear our testimony against the American Colonization Society, as being founded in the un-christian spirit of caste and enmity to our race, and unworthy of the support of any friend of humanity.

3rd. Resolved, That the pursuits of Agriculture, the Mechanical arts and commerce; togeher with the acquirement of Literature Science and the Fine arts commend themselves to the attention of our race, wherever dispersed, and that they should receive our undivided attention as the surest roads to our progressive development in the scale of civilization.

4th. Resolved, That this Convention readopts the brilliant policy, promulgated by the General Convention held at Toronto in 1851 for a continental League of the Africo-American race, and commend it to the earnest, and most urgent attention of all concerned.


5th. Resolved, That we feel grateful to Her Majesty's and the Provincial Governments for the safe asylum afforded us in this province from our American oppressors.

6th. Resolved, That we heartily recommend to our able bodied men to learn military tactics, and be ready at any moment to volunteer their services in defence of their adopted country.

7th. Resolved, That we recommend to our people in order to be good loyal subjcets, to inform themselves in regard to the laws of the Province, and as early as possible to take the oath of allegiance to sustain Her Majesty's person crown and dignity.

8th. Resolved, That we who are loyal subjects of Her Majesty will contend intelligently and firmly for all the rights and immunities which the British Constitution guarrantees to every man, without respect to clime, sect or party against all unjust prejudices that may show itself in Canada against the colored man.



Whereas the colored people of Canada have been misrepresented, and friends in the States imposed on by a number of irresponsible agents and unworthy associations, who have been a great detriment to our general reputation therefore

9th. Resolved, That Vigilant Committees of three men each be appointed in the principal townships where the colored people are settled, whose duty shall be to expose all unworthy characters who go abroad on begging expeditions.

10th. Resolved, That all religious, benevolent or educational societies, institutes or associations that propose sending out agents in



the states to solicit donations to be applied for the benefit of fugitives, be requested to advise with the Vigilant committee nearest to them, and have the credentials of their agents endorsed by said committee.

11th. Resolved, that our friends in the States be requested to scrutinize well all agents whose credentials are not endorsed by said committee, and to discountenance all whom said committee shall declare unworthy.

12th. Resolved, That the following gentlemen be requested to act in their respective places as Vigilant committees

Rev. R. Peden,

Levi Forst,

Thomas Buckner, } Malden,

James Dougall Esq.,

H. Bibb,

M.P. Mitchell, } Dawn,

Rev. Mr. Clark,

A.B. Jones,

Wm. Hamilton, } London,

T. Henning,

J.J. Cary,

Joseph Lewis, } Toronto,

Rev. Wm. King,

T. Stringer,

W. Abbott, } Buxton,

Archy Kallar,

H. H. Hawkins,

A. Smith, } Chatham,

Rev. Gore Elliott,

Rev. Wm. Ruth,

William Fisher } Colchester,

[Special objects.]—2nd. Voice & Independent.

13th. Resolved, That the Voice of the Fugitive and Canadian Independent, is a paper that faithfully vindicates our interest and we commend it to the support of our people and all well wishers of humanity in Canada and the United States.

14th. Resolved, That the job of publishing the proceedings of this convention be contracted with the publishers of that paper.

[Special objects]—3rd. UNION.]

15th. Resolved, That we recommend union and co-operation among all classes of the colored people of Canada, for their general welfare irrespective of sect or party.


16th. Resolved, That a permanent Executive Committee to supervise the general interest of the colored people of Canada is an imperative necessity that should be immediately supplied.

17th. Resolved, That the members of the Central or Corresponding committee appointed by the London Convention, in April last be and are hereby earnestly solicited to co-operate with an Executive committee to be appointed by this Convention, in such measures as may be deemed necessary to promote the interest of the colored people of Canada.


18th. Resolved, That the sacred cause of temperance, by a total abstience from all that can intoxicate, should be cherished by all of our people, as one of the first steps in the scale of advancement.



Whereas Rev. S. B. Needham ntends making an appeal to raise a sum of money to refund an amount that was generously loaned by several disinterested individuals to his aged father, in order to ransom a sister from slavery, who was about to be sold from Virginia to the licentious shambles of the far south, therefore:

19th. Resolved, That this convention after an attentive investigation of the case presented by Rev. S. B. Needham, find it authenticated by the oral and written testimony of reliable individual and consider it a worthy and desirable object that commends itself to the benevolent and christian public in the United States and Canada for their liberal contributions.

20th. Resolved, That this convention deeply sympathise with him in his laudable efforts in raising funds to redeem his last sister from the thraldom of American Slavery, and that we recommend the officers of this convention to sign a document for this brother which shall commend him to the friends of humanity throughout Canada and the United States upon his mission of mercy.

AkNTI-SLAVERY Instrumentalities.

21st. Resolved, That this convention in behalf of the American slaves, tender its thanks to Mrs. H.B. Stowe for her faithful exposure of American slavery through Uncle Tom's Cabin, together with her sympathy for the oppressed free colored people of the United States, and earnestly wish that she may lend us her aid for the general elevation of the Refugees in Canada.

22nd. Resolved, That we highly appreciate the labors of the British and Foreign, the Canadian, the American and Foreign, and the American Anti-slavery societies, and all other organizations which are formed to elevate tne condition of suffering humanity

23rd. Resolved, That we hail with unfeigned pleasure and de light, the abode in Canada of our friend and well wisher John Scoble Esq., of London.



24th. Resolved, That our sincere thanks be returned to Wm. Baby Esq., Sheriff of the United counties of Essex and Lambton, for giving his sanction to make this convention a legal assembly.

25th. Resolved, That the thanks of this convention be returned to the Citizens of Amherstburgh for the hospitalities extended by them to the members, of this convention.

26th. Resolved, That we return our thanks to the Trustees and Congregation, of the first Baptist church for the use of their house of worship in which this convention has assembled.

27th. Resolved, That our heart-felt thanks be returned to the President, subordinate Officers and Committees for the able manner in which they have discharged their duties.

28th. Resolved, That the Anti-Slavery papers be requested to notice the proceedings of this convention.



H. Bibb,

H. H. Hawkins,

J. Morton,

L. Foster,

J. Brown,

A. Smith,

J. W. Underwood,

J. T. Holly,

L. Clark,

C. Freeman,

M. F. Baily.



Attest: G. Cary,

J. T. Holly,

J. W. Underwood.

Report on Emigration.

Your committee to whom was referred the subject of Emigration beg leave to submit the following report.

Emigration is emphatically one of the most important subjects that can engage the attention of an oppressed and denationalized people, as a means for to accomplish their elevation; and it is a subject that peculiarly addresses itself to the free colored American at this time, demanding of him in the name of posterity, in the name of the future greatness of the Africo-American race, and in the name of the great Jehovah to give it his earnest attention.


And were it in our power we would sound a trumpet long and loud, that would vibrate from the St. John's to the Rio Grande, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in order to arouse the slumbering attention of our people, and bid them give this subject the attention it demands at their hands.

The free colored man in the United States, finds himself divested of every right that a freeman holds dear in two thirds of sovereignties of the American Union, and but a menial and pitiable outcast socially, in the other third. Every thing that tend to endear the land of his birth to the colored man, and make him proud of a beloved country are denied to him, and he rendered an out and out alien on the very soil that gave him birth. Nor is this the result of a mere temporary or accidental policy, or just punishment for any real or imaginary treasonable conspiracy on the part of those so cruelly proscribed. But it is a systematic, well digested and long pursued course of oppression, commencing in the very cradle of the American Republic, in the Hall of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia and followed up with increased vigor and rigor ever since, until the present time, and probably will be for all coming time, and that too upon the most unoffending portion of their population, a people, who notwithstanding their oppression at home, have bravely shed their blood in defence of that home, on every battle field, and on every sea, where the American hosts have met in deadly combat with a hostile foe.

Considering therefore so much forbearance and self sacrifice on the one side, and the studied cruelty and ingratitude on the other, we hesitate no to solemnly pronounce in the name of God, that the colored Americans in the U.S. owe that Government no allegiance, but interminable hatred, that there should not be any endearment of Country on a soil, whose every concomitant recollection, are chains and slavery; that their is no religion, no manhood no magnanimity, in any longer professing this allegiance to an infernal Government, and a love for such an accursed land of nativity, but on the other hand the curse of God, and the execration of mankind in all coming time, must and ill rest upon such a puerile and insignificant people, if they continue longer to hug their chains, under the delusive phantom, that by whining appeals in the utilitarian age of action, they will be elevated, instead of adopting a bold and decisive course to place themselves upon the pinnacle of fame, despite their oppressors. The question then in short is what is to be done? To this we will answer, there are but two alternatives that can be presented to a people, in the circumstances of the colored American. Those are Revolution or Emigration. Revolution is the boldest and probably the most glorious alternative, it is the right of the colored Americans, and if they could count man for man with their oppressors if they could have free communication with each other so as to insure concert of action, and if their was but one day in the year that every slave could call his own, on such meagre


conditions alone, without any of the advantages of civilised warfare we would say strike! for God is with you, and leave the consequences with him for he is as strong as an army with all the paraphanalia of battle ; and what though you be defeated by the overwhelming odds in favor of the devil, and you all are massacred -- then die -- die manfully, for in such an alternative, you had better be dead FREEMEN, than Living SLAVES. But we have not either of the three meagre conditions referred to above, to count upon in the sacred cause of Revolution, and therefore, Emigration is our alternative. But before pointing out the most eligible points of Emigration, we will remark here that a great portion of our people can never be reached by any argument to be incited to praise-worthy action, it is so with a similar portion of all races of people -- they are the cyphers of humanity, who are inert under any phase of political and social commotion that may take place in society; and if we did not see in this seeming stupor an organic law of God, favorable as a general rule to the stable developement of man, when placed in proper circumstances, it would indeed be a sad commentary on the idea of popular Governments, and the strongest argument that could be adduced to prove the natural depravity of mankind. This class of beings we must leave to wither and die under their oppression—the eternal laws of their being decree it. We will not contend with the fates. But to those who are favored with a more noble organization, who are restless under their chains, we shall endeavor to point out the fields of their developement.


Canada is the first place that presents itself to our consideration. Here is the Asylum of the Refugees from American Slavery, and here the impartial laws of Great Britain have full sway. Here is a vast unoccupied area of soil, equal to the best Agricultural lands in the Western States of the American Union, and here are plenty of irrigating and navigable streams. Under the hands of enterprising industry this Province is susceptible of an incalculable developement of Agricultural Manufacturing, and Commercial resources. No laws prohibit the colored man of availing himself of these advantages, his color is no bar to his naturalization after a proper period of residence here according to the laws, at which time he becomes entitled to all the privileges and immunities of any other naturalized citizen. He may educate his children for any of the learned professions, and when they grow up, there is nothing to prevent them standing side by side with their white fellow-citizens in public affairs if their qualifications are equal. By settling here in large numbers, and availing ourselves of all the advantages that the laws afford us, we may do much to counteract the tendency to annexation to the American Union, deemed by some to be inevitable, and if it must takeplace, if we are here in large numbers, we may be able to give character to the terms of annexation so as to preserve inviolable our vested


rights; or if not to afterwards make this the germ of a commotion that shall shake into atoms the proud Anglo-American confederacy. At any rate whatever may be the future destiny of Canada our fate by no possible chance can be worse than what it would be in the States, and there is every probability, that it will be better. We urge this Province upon the attention of the colored people of the U. S. in preference to any other, because of its proximity to that country. Here men of families with limited means can come, when it would be out of the question for them to go to a more distant abode, here the panting fugitive has come, is coming, and will come, by means of the Underground Railroad, for they all know the way. Here we can literally hang as a threatening black cloud over the American Union, waiting and praying for the Lord's day of vengeance, when we may be the humble instruments in his hands, to do the terrible work, of his settling, for centuries of oppression, wrong and blasphemy. These are important things that cannot be over-looked by the intelligent colored American. They offer too great inducements to himself and posterity to be disregarded. They place in his hands a key to the prison door of the slave, and bid him deliver the captive. It is these things that make Canada a more beautiful country to the refugee from the plains of Carolina than the sunny home where he has left his chains, and though our goodly heritage here was as cold and bleak as the rugged hills of Greenland, these considerations above would render it as pleasant to the mind as the sunny clime of delightful Italy. But we can thank God, that our Province is no unhospitable place. A pleasant temperate climate, and a fertile soil invites the honest toiler to abundant rewards.


The British West Indies present other very interesting points, inviting the attention of the colored Americans. The Colonial Governments, and their most prominent citizens, are very desirous, that emigrants from the United States should settle among them. Several attemps have been made to induce emigration thither without much success. Our enterprising men have not counted the value of settling in those Islands, or they would not need much persuasion to go. Jamaica, is probably the most important of all the islands to which our attention can be directed. Already there is an Agent in New York city setting before our people the advantages of that Island. This man is a colored man who went from South Carolina to Jamaica to settle, he has been there two years, and has made himself acquainted with the advantages and resources of the Island; and from his knowledge of his own people in the States he knows Jamaica is a good place for their developement. Besides it is under the free laws of Britain as well as Canada, and from the large preponderence of the colored population over the whites, being 36 to 1, colored men hold the most of the local official functions. This and its sister islands are but a few days sail from the Southern coast


of the U. S. and they stand as great beacon lights to the slave, and are destined to play an important part in the settlement of the final destiny of the Africo-American race on the continent. We would therefore encourage the mission of Mr. Harrison, the agent from Jamaica, and recommend all colored Americans who can go to that Island, by all means to do so.


This Empire as is well known is wholly in the hands of colored men and forms the grandest centre of attraction for our race wheresoevor scattered around the globe. It is the first nationality established by our race, sacred though the means of revolution against tyrannical oppression. It was the second independent government established in America. And that independence has been creditably maintained ever since under the most adverse circumstances, and that too by a people just emerged from slavery, and wholly unacquainted with the arts of political administration. In 1824 President Boyer offered great inducements to the colored Americans to settle in that country, and several thousands did go from the U. S. But it is a matter of surprise that this emigration entirely ceased after a few years duration, and a knowledge of the existence of such a country has become almost entirely obscured. Every colored man should feel binding upon himself the duty to sustain the national existence of Hayti, intact against the intervention of any or all powers whatsoever, and should pursue a policy to that end. Emigration there in large numbers on the part of the colored Americans would do much to strengthen the hands of that government, and forward in an incalculable degree the cause of our elevation in America. From that point we could watch the fate of our brethren in Cuba, and prepare ourselves to lend them a helping hand when the day of their reckoning shall come.


Guatemala, Guiana, and New Grenada are also important points, of secondary interest to those we have named above, that open a field for the development of the colored race, and to which we must turn our attention, in the great work before us.

It is not too soon for us to take them into our account now, in calculating our future destiny in America, and the emigration of a few companies of enterprising men in these directions, would not be amiss, and would meet our hearty approbation.

In conclusion your committee beg leave to recapitulate the important points of emigration, Canada, British West Indies, Hayti, Central and South America. We have presented so many different points, in order to suit the various minds, and the available capacity of all who are calculating to emigrate. We have no doubt but that Canada for the reasons we have stated when referring to it, will for the present claim the first consideration. After Canada the British West Indies appear to be the next available points, but we have no


doubt as our cause rolls on to the great issue that awaits our distiny on the continent, no points will figure more conspicuously in our considerations than Hayti, Central and South America. We have taken no other places into our account but places on this Continent and the adjacent Islands. The reason of this is because we regard all measures calculated for our elevation, in order to be immediately practicable, must be strictly confined to a continental policy.

We know there are millions of our race in the Eastern world that have claims on our considerations, but our own claims are prior and must take precedence.

In a future age when we shall have achieved an honorable destiny for ourselves in America, and wiped out from the whole western continent the stain of slavery. We confidently trust that there will be enough of christianity, philanthropy and civilization, among our descendants of that day to send missionaries to Africa in common with other christian races, to re-kindle the flames of her ancient christian civilization. We cannot close this report without urging the Convention to re-adopt the policy of the Toronto Convention in relation to a Continental League of the Africo-American race, and to take measures to place it in practical operation forthwith. For a systematic combination should go hand in hand with every band of emigrants wheresoever they may go on the continent, uniting them in co-operative efforts with those they leave behind, or who may be scattered throughout its different parts.




Report of the Commiittee on Agriculture.

The committee to whom the subject of Agriculture was referred, regret that they have not had more time to make out their report, as it is on a subject of the most vital importance to all classes and ranks of the human family.

By Agriculture is meant the improvement and cultivation of the soil, the rearing of stock, flocks, fowls, fruit and vegetation of every kind that can be used for the benefit of man. It is doubtless well known to every reflecting mind that the subject under consideration is the great absorbing theme among the civilized nations of the earth. The importance of it is now calling into existence, County, State and even National Agricultural Societies: It is also calling to its aid the finest talents among great Statesmen and professional men, who are wielding their pens in its behalf. And why should it not be so? When we know that all of our social, commercial, moral and political happiness depend more or less upon it. Let all of the farmers stop ploughing and cultivating the soil for a single year and the merchants will be compelled to shut up their stoires, the Lawyers and Doctors will leave their occupation. The Ships and Steamboats



will lay rotting at your docks, and in fact all business will be suspended,—in a word there is no class of men living, upon whom the whole world is so much dependant as they are upon Farmers. They hold in their fist the very key that unlocks the door of commerce, of the College and of the Legislative Halls of Nations.

The Mechanical arts and scientific knowledge are very desirable to make one useful and happy, but when unsupported by an Agricultural basis they wither like the rose before the scorching rays of the noon-day sun.

And notwithstanding the vital importance of this class of men to community, they have been almost entirely neglected and disregarded by political administrators in all their measures for the public good, but thank God, they are now fast commanding the pre-eminent respect of society, and will soon assume their proper place of respect, regard and honor in the public estimation.

What then is the great aim and object of man in this life if it is not to place himself in easy circumstances and thus make himself useful and happy among his fellow men? To guard against approaching difficulties and to place himself beyond the reach of want, seem to be a part of his nature. These are some of the distinctive characteristics of man that give him a superiority over the brute creation : his moral, physical and intellectual value must be provided for in order to render life agreeable and make him useful among his fellows.

The great question then is what pursuit in life is best adapted to attain the end here sought?

In answer to the above question your committee have no hesitation in declaring that in their humble opinion an ownership of the soil, and a faithful cultivation of the same are the best and most certain means which can be used to accomplish the desired end.

We do not mean to say that farmers are always the richest men, or the most learned, but that they are the most independent and indispensable members of community, no reflecting mind will pretend to deny.

Who produces the food with which our tables are spread from day to day? Who produces the cotton wool with which we are clad? Who furnishes the fuel with which the gigantic steam engines are now driven by land and sea with a rapidity and power which is astonishing to the age in which we live? It is the industrious farmer; in fact the farmers may be said to be the only real producers with which the world is blessed. It is true that professional men are some times very useful. The same thing may be said of mechanics and merchants, but weigh a score of them in the scales of usefulness with one good practical agriculturalist and they will be found wanting.

If the farmers life then is the most independent and useful—if it is a business which commands universal respect and places us upon a common platform with all farmers: and that the great author of our existence commanded us to go forth and till the soil and has ever blessed the labor of our hands while in that pursuit,—Your


committee feel bound to recommend in the strongest terms that our oppressed race in North America, should as fast as possible without doing serious injury to themselves, abandon the cities and villages, cease to be the boot blacks, table waiters, ostlers and barbers of white men who stand upon your necks and treat you as inferiors, and go into the country where you can teach your sons and daughters the more honorable business of farming. In an Agricultural community there is less prejudice among men growing out of their occupations or complexions than in any other circumstance in life, here the white and the black man worships together at the same altar, their children are taught most generally in the same schools, the same Almighty hand that nurtures and rewards the honest toil of the white farmer, showers down with equal measure his blessing upon the black man's crops also : and when they have gathered in the harvest and driven it into market there is no disposition on the part of white merchants to slight or to treat with indifference a colored farmer or his products. A good load of grain, potatoes, flour, beef or fat pork will command quite as much respect and attention in a black man's wagon as though it were brought to market by one of a different complexion.

Your committee in conclusion would in view of the subject most respectfully recommend the organization of Agricultural Societies in the respective settlements among our people throughout Canada West, with a view of holding annual fairs, which are now giving a new impulse to the farming interests throughout the Western world.

We would also most respectfully recommend that each farmer's wife and daughters, together with the husband and father should produce something to be exhibited in each annual fair : all of which is respectfully submitted for your consideration.

(Signed by)

HENRY BIBB, of Windsor C. W.

ANDREW SMITH, of Chatham C. W.

E. D. CLAYBROOK, of Madison Ind.

Report of the Committee on Temperance.

Your committee appointed on the subject of Temperance, beg leave to submit the following report. We do not think it necessary to dwell at length upon a subject that commends itself to every intelligent man. But your committee would respectfully submit that there can be no true Temperance without an entire abstinence from all that can intoxicate. There is no half way course, and a man is not safe from a drunkards grave or a drunkards hell unless he cease tippling.

Drunkenness and lounging around grog-shops are two of the most degrading customs that can afflict any community ; the elevation of no man is possible unless he ceases this evil as the first step in his progress. And no man who deals out the intoxicating draught to


his fellow men, can be much longer respectable in community. And we appeal to our people in every community to organize Temperance Societies, Commence agitation on the subject and never cease until the evil is banished from our midst, by the power of moral suasion backed by a stringent prohibitory enactment of the Maine Liquor Law stamp, to be exacted from the Provincial Parliament.





Report of the Committee on Education.

Your committee to whom the subject of education was referred, after deliberating on the same would most respectfully submit the following report:

That we regard education as one of the most important measures connected with the destiny of our race; that we do thereby command the respect of our most inveterate enemies and prove our susceptibility of improving as great as that of any people under the same circumstances; and that the education of our children should be one of the first measures taken by us as a people, for without it we shall forever be degraded, enslaved and oppressed, and cannot possibly attain the position that God in his goodness designs that we should, and that we deeply feel the need of it when contending for our rights ; that it will be one of the most important measures to be taken to ameliorate the condition of our enslaved and oppressed brethren in bondage. Furthermore we do recommend to those of us who are in a land of freedom to accept the earliest opportunity of sending their children to schools whereby they may obtain, a fortune that none can take away from them, the "Southern Slaveholder not excepted," and that they should place them in any and all of the white schools accessible to them: thereby striking at the unchristian negro hate among us, and extending the social link that should hind humanity together.





Report on Statistics.

Your committee are unable to give a full statistical report of the colored people throughout the Province generally, returns have been received, only from a few places, and these but imperfect.



500 coloured inhabitants. 4 churches. Children all admitted to the schools of all grades from the common school up to the university. Real estate owned by colored people—about £ 30,000.


About 200 coloured inhabitants. 3. Churches. Schools open to all.


60 colored inhabitants. Equal rights.

St. Catherines.

About 800 colored inhabitants. In the Niagara District, altogether about 1,500.


26 families of colored people; about one half of whom are freeholders. 90 children of school age, 27 members of churches.


276 colored people in the town and neighborhood. Real estate £ 13,504.—Members of Temperance Society 80. Number of children attending day and Sunday school, 35.

Wilberforce Settlement.

Colored population 52. Freehold Estate 600 acres of land.

Township of Sandwich.

500 colored people. 5. churches.—Day schools 3. Sabbath schools 3. Real Estate £5365 10s. 1 Newsparer owned and edited by colored men. 1696 acres of land owned by the Refugees' Home Society, which, partly by donation and partly by sales disposes of its lands to colored settlers in lots of 25 acres.

Chatham and Vicinity.

No. of colored inhabitants 800. Value of property about $90.000. No. of different mechanics. Carpenters 11, Brick masons 10, Plasterers 11, Blacksmiths 7, Shoemakers 15, Gunsmith 1, Coppersmith 1, Tabaconists 2, Tailor 1, Cabinetmaker 1, Chandler 1, Dagareuean 1, Painters 2, Butcher 1, Steam Engineers 6, Ship Carpenter 1, Milliner 1, Tailoress 1.

Associations. No. of members of the Temperance Society 152. No. of members of the Chatham Lyceum 20. No. of members of the Victoria Ladies Association 15. No. of children attending day schools 70. Sabbatth schools 100. No. of Baptist Churches 2. Methodist Churches 2. No. of Groceries 10. Boarding houses 5.

The colored people in common with other are tax payers, but their children have no access to the Government schools.


No. of colored inhabitants 800. Value of real and personal property $15,000. Schools 4. Churches 3.



No. of colored inhabitants 250. Schools 1, Churches 1.


No. of colored inhabitants 500. Property $20,000.

Amhertsburg Village.

No. of colored inhabitants 600, property $25.000. 1 school, 3 Churches.

Township of Malden.

No. of colored inhabitants 900, property $50,000, Churches 2.





Report on the Constitution for a Provincial League.

Laid on the Table Indefinitely.

Your committee to whom was referred the duty of presenting a draft of a Constitution for a Canadian Council of the Africo-American League, beg leave to report the following:

1st. This Convention decrees the establishment of a Council of the Africo-American League.

2d. The Council shall be composed of a President, 4 Vice-Presidents Secretary, Treasurer, and Councillors.

3rd. The President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer shall be elected by this Convention, and annually hereafter by a Convention to be called by the Council.

4th. Councillors shall be elected annually by the respective localities in Canada where colored people are settled on the following basis:

A Township of 300 colored inhabitants . . 1 Councillor.

" " 800 " " . . 2 Councillors.

" " 2000 " " . . 3 Councillors,

for every additional 1000- one Councillor..

5th. The President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary, and Treasurer, shall form an Executive Committee ; and Agents for the League shall be appointed by a majority of that committee at the nomination of the President.

6th. At least one Vice-President, the Secretary the Treasurer and 6 other persons to be appointed by the Council, shall reside part in the Township of Malden, and part in the Township of Sandwich, who shall form a business committee, who shall meet once in a month to transact such business pertaining to the general interest of the League as may come before them.


7th. The Council shall meet annually on the first Monday of October to receive the report of the doings of the Business Committee, to appoint the annual Convention for the succeeding year, and take such other action as they may deem necessary.

8th. All the officers of the League shall enter upon their official terms of office from the first Monday in October, but the officers elected by this convention shall commence their term of office immediately and hold over to October 1854.

9th. The election of Executive Committee and Councillors shall take place at least one month before the commencement of their term of office.

10th. There shall be three General Agents appointed, one to travel in Canada, one to travel in the U. S. and one in the West Indies and South America in behalf of the objects of the League.

11th. The General Agents shall hold office during the pleasure of the Executive Committee, and must be present, and report their labors ot the Annual Meeting of the Council.

12th. The Members of the Council and Executive Committee in the different localities shall correspond and advise with the business Committee monthly through the Secretary between the annual sessions in October, during their term of office.

13th. The officers of the Executive Committee shall discharge the usual duties in addition to those above enumerated as are discharged by similar officers in other Societies.

14th. A fund for general expenses shall be created by subscriptions, donations and contributions for that purpose; and by a tax of five shilling currency per annum on all who shall exercise the right of voting for Councillors and the other officers of the League.

15th. The expenses of the travelling agents and of the Councillors to and from the annual Session, together with compensation for all the active service performed by all the officers of the League shall be paid out of the general fund at the appropriation of the Council.

16. The objects of the League shall be to encourage Agricultural, Manufacturing and Commercial pursuits among the colored people of the American Continent, to promote a friendly co-operation among the same, and encourage emigration from the U. S. to Canada, and other available points on the continent.

17th. The Council shall have full power to carry out all the provisions of this constitution, and during the interim of its sessions the Executive Committee shall be invested with that power.

18th. The Business Committee shall have power to fill any vacancy in the vigilance committees that may occur in the interim of the annual meeting of the Council, at which time the Council shall appoint said committees to act during the suceeding year.

19th. This Constitution can only be amended by such amendments being proposed in writing to the Executive Committee three months before the Annual Session of the Council ; and published


three times, one month before said session, and if these amendments are concurred in, by the Council at its annual session, the same shall be referred to the annual Convention for final ratification.



To William D. Baby Esquire, Sheriff of the united counties of Essex and Lambton,

Sir:--We the undersigned free holders and house-holders of the town of Amherstburgh county of Essex Province of Canada, do most respectfully request that you will convene a Public meeting of the colored people and th ir friends in the town of Amherstburgh on such a day as you may deem expedient for the purpose of deliberating upon the best means to be used for the elevation of the colored people of Canada--

Levi Foster, Emanuel Burnet,

Isaac Wilson, Samuel Hughes

Majer Stevens, Henry Turner,

J. H. Simpson, Peter Brown,

Wm. Fisher, Wm. Ruth,

Peter Jackson, Jerimiah Harris.

Sheriffs Office Sandwich, 10th June, 1853.

In compliance with the foregoing requisition I hereby convene a public meeting of the colored inhabitants free-holders of the county of Essex at the Town of Amherstburgh on the sixteenth day of June instant, at the hour of ten o'clock A. M. and all persons interested, are hereby notified to govern themselves accordingly.

W. D. BABY, Sheriff of Essex & Lambton.



D. L. Talbot, . . . 30 copies,

Bibb, and Holly, . . . 50 "

Lewis Clark, . . . 50 "

Smith, Bayley, and Needham, . 50 "

Mr. Howard, . . . 25 "

Wm. Carter, . . . 25 "

N. W. Brown, . . . 25 "

Isaac Brown, . . . 25 "


E. Claybrook, . . . 10 copies.

I. Campbell, . . . 50 "

Turner and Stevens, . . 25 "

Rev. Mr. Warren, . . 50 "

P. J. Jackson, . . . 25 "

Rev. J. Henson. . . 60 "


Convention Minutes Item Type Metadata

Convention Type





General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada (1853 : Amherstburgh), “Minutes and proceedings of the General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada, held by adjournments in Amhrstburgh [sic], C.W., June 16th and 17th, 1853.,” Colored Conventions Project Digital Records, accessed May 24, 2020,